Log inSign Up

A Simple Guide to Working With Clothing Manufacturers (Bonus Tips)

by Boris Hodakel  • December 10, 2018 • 9 min read

Table of contents

Fashion can be a glamorous business and seeing your creations worn by the public is a huge achievement for aspiring creatives. The process of getting your ideas into production has historically been a lengthy and complicated task but with new and innovative tools finding the right clothing manufacturer for your brand has never been easier. There is a wide range of things to think about before bringing your product to market, but to ensure you get off on the right foot, nailing this process will help you succeed in this lucrative industry.

Statistics show that the UK clothing market has been growing over the past decade, and with the rise in influence of social media, this figure doesn’t appear to be slowing anytime soon. Although on the outside, the high-street appears to be disappearing, people still like to shop in real stores to get a feel for the quality and craftsmanship they are getting for their money. Of course, online shopping is also a popular and often preferred method of purchase for convenience and price. With this steady growth in the apparel industry, the UK manufacturing sector has remained stable and is seeing a rise in new enterprises compared to previous years. This growth has also attributed to clothing manufacturers entering new markets such as plus size clothing.

To help emerging brands and business, Sewport make it easy for you to find suitable clothing manufacturers for your niche. Alongside our innovative platform, we have a range of handy tips and resources to help you get your fashion business off the ground.

In this guide, we take a look at the process of starting a fashion brand including everything from creating a brand plan to working with clothing manufacturers on bringing your ideas to life.

What to prepare before launching your clothing brand

Create a brand plan

Starting a new fashion brand is an exciting venture whether you are a university graduate producing your first collection or an established business looking to expand into new areas. One of the first things to think about before jumping feet first into your new enterprise is to establish your objectives and brand plan to get the ball rolling.

Some of the best ideas never make it to the prototype stage; so ensuring you have everything you need before you get started in the production process will help to make this stage smooth and simple.

Establishing your business and brand plan is the first stage in making your dream a reality, so asking yourself some important questions will ensure you set both short-term and long-term goals for your new business.

Take a look at some of the areas to consider when creating your brand plan:

Define your reasons for creating a clothing brand

The fashion industry is competitive but with the range of resources available it is becoming accessible to people that have passion and drive to create unique clothing. Thinking about why you want to start a new clothing line can help to identify your target audience and also define your niche in the industry.

Define your target market

Many businesses fail because they do not identify the audience they are talking to. For small fashion businesses, this is particularly important as you may not have an established voice in the industry and will rely on targeting specific customers to bring your ideas to life.

Think big (or small)

One of the main reasons why people enter the fashion industry is that they can see the potential for their designs to flourish. This entrepreneurial spirit helps to create a vision for the future and enables innovative business owners the chance to plan ahead. Creating a vision usually involves big plans but in fact, they can often start small too. In clothing production, designing and manufacturing small runs can often lead to exclusive and sought-after collections, so defining your long-term vision should be suited to your brand and target audience.

Set out a timeline

Time is important in any sector and when you are bringing a product to launch having a timeline and set milestones in place will ensure that production stays on track. Creating a calendar for clothing production can be a tricky task and there are several factors to consider when setting out dates for your overall objectives.

If you are able to provide a timeline, this will also give clothing manufacturers a better understanding of your goals. It is also important to be realistic. Although some manufacturers will be able to accommodate quick turnarounds, this could result in errors in the process, which in turn will set you back further than expected.

There should be enough time in your planning and production process to navigate and correct errors. Working closely with your clothing manufacturer will give you the opportunity to negotiate turnaround times and consider the factors they might encounter when producing your clothing. You should always give yourself enough time rather than too little, as this will reduce the scale of errors or external mitigating factors that could affect production.

Budgeting

Whether you are creating a small clothing collection or are hoping to start a new retail chain, setting a realistic budget for your brand is essential. There are several steps in the clothing production process and accounting for every aspect will ensure your cashflow can keep up with your plans.

A good way to keep track of everything is to create a costing guide, which showcases the associated costs for each item you plan to sell. This guideline will also assist in setting the final price of products and give you an idea of the type of profit you could expect from your first run.

Budgeting for clothing manufacturing costs also gives you the chance to research suppliers for your price point. By comparing costs, you can see weigh up the pros and cons of each manufacturer before committing.

Another important element to consider when planning your clothing production budget is where your supplier is based. There are a host of options to choose from including UK clothing manufacturers and overseas options, and this could assist you in determining costs for shipping, logistics, convenience and time allocations for communication.

Being realistic and ensuring you have contingencies in place will give you a clearer idea of your requirements in order to plan and produce a profitable collection.

Further information: How To Start a Clothing Brand

Product development and clothing production

After you have successfully created a brand plan and have sufficient budget to move onto the production stage, learning how to utilise your resources will ensure you work with the best clothing manufacturers for your business ideas. In the past, getting started in the apparel industry would have been a difficult task for fashion industry outsiders but we have developed an innovative platform to find relevant clothing producers from across the globe in a simple and straightforward way.

Sewport understands that starting a new business is time-consuming and challenging, and our fresh approach to sourcing and producing both small and large garment runs enables you to manage your production process and budget effectively.

Take a look at some of the most common factors when developing your clothing line for production:

Find suitable clothing manufacturers

Long gone are the days of elite lists and fashion insider exclusivity, clothing manufacturers are open for business and working with a host of small and large organisations to produce quality garments for both the UK and overseas markets. Research is vital to ensuring you get the best price for your requirements but also, this insight establishes what the manufacturer can do for your business and whether they can accommodate your ideas.

Utilising the Sewport platform gives you access to hundreds of suppliers that can cater to your individual needs, and everything can be completed in one place from initial communication to tracking delivery of the finished product. It is easy to set up an account and talk to clothing manufacturers directly and gain valuable information to help you make your first order.

Join the Sewport community

Types of clothing manufacturer

Another deciding factor when choosing a clothing producer is what services they provide. There are two main areas to consider when looking at production and this is whether you need a factory to produce straight from your specifications and tech pack or you require a full-scale service from pattern creation through to finished product.

CMT clothing production

For fashion brands that are confident in their designs and have created a comprehensive tech pack for a supplier to use, choosing a CMT (Cut, Make, Trim) producer is an ideal choice. This type of method enables you to have full control over the design and packaging process and works well for smaller established brands that have built a positive relationship with a supplier.

FPP clothing production

Full Production Package (FPP) is great for new businesses that have less experience in the industry. This method provides a full service including everything from assisting in designing styles and patterns to producing the final garments. It can prove more expensive than CMT production, but to get your fashion business off the ground, it can often provide the perfect starting point.

Creating a Tech Pack

When developing your ideas for your new fashion brand, you’ll have an initial concept image that will provide the basis for your clothing line. Rather than just giving a clothing manufacturer this basic outline, producing a tech pack can help to identify all the small details required to make your finished product.

A tech pack can help to minimise errors in the production process and if you can provide as much information as possible such as measurements, colours and fabric type, this will make the process smoother. A tech pack not only provides a solid foundation to get production started, it also ensures everyone is on the same page and your design is easily translatable to the manufacturer.

Further information: How To Create a Tech Pack for Garment Production

How to communicate with clothing manufacturers

Effective communication is key when bringing your clothing line to production so considering what type of questions you might ask and understanding the processes will assist in getting accurate information the first time. As a new business, terminology might be overwhelming and knowing the type of pitfalls to avoid will guide you through this experience.

Take a look at some of the common areas to consider when talking to potential suppliers:

Learn terminology

No one expects you to know everything as a new business owner but grasping the basics can help get you through an initial conversation with a clothing manufacturer. If you are not able to clearly explain your ideas and vision, you may not get the correct advice or quotes back when enquiring, which could result in time-wasting and potential errors in the long run.

Further information: Clothing Production Terminology

Understanding minimums

It is commonplace in clothing production for manufacturers to have a minimum order quantity (MOQ’s) when creating designs. In some cases, you may find that factories can only produce bulk quantities, as smaller runs prove more expensive. If you are looking to order less, there is still a wide choice of suppliers that can meet your requirements.

Deciding the number of garments you require is an important part of the planning process and considering styles and sizes will also assist when ordering quantities. At Sewport, there is a range of clothing producers that can accommodate smaller runs as well as bulk orders.

Samples

Samples are an essential part of the production process and are useful during the initial research and planning stage, but also vital before final production. Samples will help you establish whether the feel and look of the clothing is right for your brand and whether the quality is suitable. Later in the production phase, your final sample will need to be checked before you commit to your final run. It is worth noting that some suppliers charge for samples, and these can be a higher unit cost than your finished product. This cost should be factored into your brand plan and forms an essential part of the planning process to ensure everything is correct and perfect for your new fashion collection.

Discussing timeframes

Setting timeframes and keeping a clear line of communication open with suppliers is vital to ensure everything goes to plan. With the help of Sewport, all of this can be done from your account to avoid mixed messages or missed deadlines. Working with your manufacturer to get a realistic timeframe will ensure that expectations are met. Negotiation may be required at this stage, as you may require a quick turnaround but reaching a mutual agreement will be beneficial to both parties to keep your brand launch on track.

Establishing a good relationship with a clothing producer is beneficial for everyone and as a new business, it can help you build solid foundations in the industry.

Further information: How To Talk To Clothing Manufacturers

About the author:

Boris Hodakel is the founder and CEO of Sewport - an online marketplace connecting brands and manufacturers, former founder of various clothing manufacturing services. He is passionate about e-commerce, marketing and production digitisation. Connect with Boris on LinkedIn.

Start your project